Before LeBron James signed with the Lakers, LA was already getting +2000 odds to win the 2019 NBA title, a number that grossly overestimated their chances if LeBron wasn’t going to be wearing purple and gold. The people that run sportsbooks aren’t stupid (trust us on that one). They knew the Lakers had a great shot at signing LeBron and shortened the odds ahead of the move.
They did the same with the other possible landing spots, in particular Houston and Philly.
Immediately after the King signed with LA, the Lakers jumped to +500, second behind the Warriors at most books. It briefly looked like LA was going all-in on the 2018-19 season. It was only a matter of time before they added another superstar, right? Say, Kawhi Leonard?
Instead of Kawhi, the next guys through the door were Javale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Rajon Rondo, and the likelihood of adding Leonard started to decline, falling to 29% according to SportsBettingDime.com
Meanwhile, over in Oakland, the Warriors signed DeMarcus Cousins, and the internet lost its mind.
The flurry of moves after LeBron signed sent the odds back in the other direction. Now the Lakers are at +650, behind Boston (+550) and even with Houston. And the Warriors? They’re bigger preseason favorites than ever at -175. It’s almost like people don’t think Lance Stephenson is a difference-maker.